Thank you for walking beside our STAR participants and their families on their unique journeys. You’ve helped STARs like Joe, who created the colorful artwork on this page, flourish by supporting life-changing programs including vocational training, life skills development, sports leagues and creative expression classes.
As the community keeps growing, the need for engaging, innovative programs and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has also greatly increased. Last year, 57 new participants enrolled in our programs. The Trailblazer Academy, our pioneering community-based day program, served 60 people, while another 64 individuals were on a waiting list.
This #GivingTuedsay, our STARs need-and deserve-even more support than ever. That’s why a group of STAR families have created a generous $15,000 match to invest in expanding our programs and services.
It’s been a challenging time for many in our community. But if you can, we hope that you consider making a special #GivingTuedsay gift to give a STAR like Joe a sense of purpose and the chance to lead a fulfilling life.
For longtime STARability participant Joe, art is his way of communicating.
His parents, Donna and Glen Shirley, first registered him in STARability’s social events and bowling league years ago after they relocated from Wilmette, Illinois. The move was difficult for Joe because he didn’t have his friends and familiar touchstones. When STARability created the Trailblazer Academy in 2016, Joe joined the community-based day program.
Donna and Glen immediately noticed a change in their son. He made new friends and social connections, developed critical life skills for more independence and regained his confidence. He even has a job now, working as STARability’s data entry assistant.
"We want Joe to feel good about himself, and STARability has allowed him to feel like he's part of the community," Donna says.
Joe’s passion for creating art was also reignited, a cherished gift he inherited from relatives. Today, Joe makes cards for friends and the STAR Store & Studio, our social enterprise. When we told Joe that we wanted to share his art with you, he painted this piece.
On this #GivingTuedsay, we hope you enjoy the creation he has shared with you!